Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Devaluation

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Devaluation
Photo: Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific has announced a major devaluation of its Asia Miles frequent flyer program. Key changes include award flight price increases and changes to the way miles are earned. The Asia Miles devaluation comes into effect from 22 June 2018, so you have less than a month to take advantage of the program in its current form.

The upcoming Asia Miles devaluation affects Australians for several reasons. Firstly, Asia Miles is a major transfer partner for most Australian credit cards. Secondly, the program is currently a much more competitive Oneworld program than Qantas Frequent Flyer. But this could change in less than a month. Award flights on Cathay Pacific and partner airlines, including Qantas, will likely increase significantly in price.

We’ve broken down the upcoming Asia Miles changes, and what they mean for Australians…

Earning Asia Miles

The number of Asia Miles earned for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights is changing. Currently, the distance flown is multiplied by a percentage amount based on the class of travel. Under the new system, there is a fixed earn rate based on the cabin class, fare class and the distance zone.

New Asia Miles earn rates for Cathay Pacific flights from 22 June 2018
New Asia Miles earn rates for Cathay Pacific flights from 22 June 2018

Most tickets will actually earn more miles after the changes, with cheaper Economy tickets considerably better off. But certain fare classes will now earn fewer miles. On the Sydney-Hong Kong route, for example, there are reductions to earn rates with Economy classes M, L and V, as well as discounted Premium Economy fares. The cheapest Economy fare classes still do not earn any Asia Miles.

There are no changes to Asia Miles earn rates when flying with partner airlines, including Qantas.

Redeeming Asia Miles for Cathay Pacific Award Flights

There are some significant changes to Asia Miles flight redemptions after 22 June. Currently, round-trip award flights cost less than double the number of Asia Miles of a one-way flight. But this handy discount for redeeming return flights is ending, with all awards to be priced as one-way.

More redemption seats will be made available on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, but most of these will cost more. Complementing the cheaper Standard Awards, Choice and Tailored Awards are being introduced. Choice and Tailored awards will cost more, but more seats will be available for redemption bookings. Standard awards will cost the least number of miles, but will have the lowest award availability. They’ll also be released a week later – 353 days out, instead of the current 360 days before departure.

The number of miles needed for some Economy awards is actually decreasing. But there are modest increases for most Premium Economy, Business and First class award flights. This is especially the case for long-haul routes.

New Asia Miles award chart for Cathay Pacific flights
New Asia Miles award chart for Cathay Pacific flights

Interestingly, some ultra-long routes (such as Sydney-London) will become slightly cheaper. Asia Miles has confirmed to Australian Frequent Flyer that itineraries with one transit will continue to be priced as a through-booking.

Redeeming Asia Miles for Upgrades

The number of Asia Miles required for an upgrade on Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon is also increasing on many routes. For example, an upgrade from Premium Economy to Business on a flight from Brisbane to Hong Kong currently costs 12,500 miles one-way or 22,500 miles for a round-trip booking. Under the new system, the same upgrade will cost 18,000 miles one-way and there is no round-trip discount.

After the Asia Miles devaluation, it will no longer be possible to upgrade British Airways and American Airlines flights using Asia Miles.

Redeeming Asia Miles for Oneworld and Partner Airline Flights

Cathay Pacific has not released the post-devaluation Oneworld and partner airline award charts. So we won’t know exactly how partner airline awards will be affected until after the Asia Miles devaluation comes into effect on 22 June. In our view, this is a serious cause for concern and also very poor form. If the changes were positive, you can bet the details would have been released by now!

An Asia Miles spokesperson confirmed to Australian Frequent Flyer that while the changes mainly affect Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights, partner airline award pricing will also change. Some redemptions will require more miles after 22 June, but others will stay the same or require fewer miles. “We have different agreements with different airline partners, we are inputting the data so that members will be able to check the information on our website from 22 June when the new system goes live,” the spokesperson added.

Cathay Pacific has provided some carefully-chosen examples of partner airline award pricing under the new system. In most of the examples provided, award flights are becoming more expensive.

Australian Frequent Flyer has sighted several examples of Qantas award pricing under the new system. There will be no changes to the cost of one-way Qantas Economy class awards on the Sydney-Melbourne and Melbourne-Brisbane routes. But return awards will become more expensive due to the loss of the one-way discount. On the Sydney-Hong Kong route, a round-trip Qantas Business class award will increase from 80,000 to 100,000 Asia Miles. Meanwhile, premium cabin awards on Qantas long-haul routes such as Sydney-Los Angeles will also increase:

  • Premium Economy to Los Angeles increases from 48,000 to 50,000 Asia Miles one-way, or from 72,000 to 100,000 miles round-trip
  • Business Class to Los Angeles increases from 70,000 to 75,000 Asia Miles one-way, or from 120,000 to 150,000 miles round-trip
  • First Class to Los Angeles increases from 105,000 to 120,000 Asia Miles one-way, or from 180,000 to 240,000 miles round-trip

Oneworld Multi-Carrier Awards

One of the best uses of Asia Miles is for Oneworld Multi-Carrier Awards. Similar to Qantas’ Oneworld Awards, these can be used to fly around the world on Oneworld airlines!

The new Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award chart has been revealed, and most prices have increased. As an example, a round-the-world trip of up to 35,000 miles in length will now cost 210,000 Asia Miles in Business class (up from 190,000 miles). The same trip in First class increases from 275,000 to 300,000 Asia Miles. The good news is that the Business and First class rates are still significantly cheaper than an equivalent Qantas Oneworld Award!

Redeem your Asia Miles before 22 June 2018

While some of the changes are positive, Australians should be concerned by the increased cost of many award flights after the Asia Miles devaluation. This is especially the case for Asia Miles partner airline awards as we don’t yet know exactly what the changes will involve.

The good news is that you can still redeem your Asia Miles at the current prices before 22 June 2018. Get in quick to secure the current, low award & upgrade prices!

You can make a booking before 22 June at the lower prices and then change the flight date in the future. You’ll need to pay a change fee of USD25-40 per flight sector, per passenger. But you won’t be charged the higher amount of miles.

There are no changes to Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club program.

What do you make of the upcoming Asia Miles devaluation? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Asia Miles Program Changes


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]